Posts Tagged ‘Aristocracy’

The Midnight Rose – Lucinda Riley

Posted in Historical Fiction, Saga on January 20th, 2014 by admin – 6 Comments

Midnight Rose

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (16 Jan 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1447218434
  • My Rating – 3.5 stars

Sometimes I need a good dollop of escapism in my reading material, especially during the dreary Winter months when sunshine is in short supply.  Fortunately I had The Midnight Rose, Lucinda Riley’s latest novel, to keep me entertained when the Christmas festivities had fizzled out.

This is the story of Anni (Anahita) Chavan, a tale which spans four generations and two continents.  As Anni celebrates her 100th birthday in Darjeeling, India, surrounded by her extended family, she decides to entrust her great-grandson, Ari, with the task of uncovering long buried family secrets – secrets which will lead him to Astbury Hall and the staid world of the English aristocracy.

As the novel progresses, we see the vivid colours of India at the height of the Raj; a warm, vibrant setting which contrasts sharply with the cold, reserved atmosphere which awaits Anni when she comes to England.   The characters are larger than life, particularly the strong women in the shape of Anni and her nemesis, Lady Maud Astbury.

The Midnight Rose is a thoroughly entertaining read which will appeal to those who enjoy historical sagas in the style of Barbara Taylor Bradford and Lesley Pearse and perhaps fans of Downton Abbey.  Yes, there are a few predictable elements but there’s no doubt Ms Riley can spin a good yarn to keep her readers captivated.

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The Secret Rooms – A True Gothic Mystery – Catherine Bailey

Posted in non-fiction on November 16th, 2012 by admin – 3 Comments

jacket image for The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey - large version

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (1 Nov 2012)
  • Source: Amazon Vine
  • My Rating: 5 stars

I don’t usually read a lot of non-fiction but something about this story really drew me in and, to use that well-worn cliche, “you couldn’t make it up”. From a daunting mountain of documents, Catherine Bailey has succeeded in excavating an intriguing and involving true story of one man’s life – a very sad story emerges as she fills in the gaps in the life story of John Manners, the 9th Duke of Rutland.

This is a very detailed and extremely well researched account which highlights the immense power held by the Manners family – power which is abused by Violet, John’s mother, who is portrayed as a manipulative matriarch, determined to safeguard the future of the family line, at any cost. Could duty to one’s family possibly override duty to one’s country at a time of war? When you don’t have the luxury of “an heir and a spare” does the end justify the means?

Despite John’s efforts to cover up events, he hadn’t reckoned on the tenacity and investigative skills of Catherine Bailey. It makes you feel quite sorry for some of the aristocracy although that is tempered a lot when you consider the immense numbers of Rutland estate workers who died in the trenches during the Great War. A very engaging and eye-opening read.

Belvoir Castle today

John, 9th Duke of Rutland and his wife Kakoo (Kathleen)

The Menacing Mama!

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